About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
Connect on Facebook:
Connect on Twitter:
Ambrose and Prudentius took something classical and made it Christian; the revisers and their imitators took something Christian and tried to make it classical. The result may be pedantry, and sometimes perhaps poetry; but it is not piety. “Accessit Latinitas, discessit pietas.”
— Fr. Joseph Connelly (1954)

Does Watershed Make A Difference?
published 13 September 2017 by Jeff Ostrowski

4450 picture S YOU KNOW, all of us here at Watershed are volunteers. We have no staff and no salaries. Every so often, my fellow bloggers and I wonder if we are making an impact on the “real world.”

Here’s something powerful we recently received from Maryland:

Dear Corpus Christi Watershed,

I wanted to send a note to tell you what an incredible blessing your webpage and blog have been to me.

I am a vocalist and have been all my life. I am very studied, though I have no formal degree in music (in high school, thinking I’d never pay the bills with music, I got a degree in something else that makes no money and required a Master’s degree for employment!). I am an educator by trade. When I had my first child, I quit working full time but was asked shortly after to cantor at my parish—I wasn’t even fully Catholic at the time! Through much prayer, I discerned God was calling me to lead my parish’s music program when our brand new pastor came to our parish in 2013. I was hired as a part-time music director in early 2014 (right before finishing RCIA and being received into the Church at Easter Vigil).

For the past 3.5 years, I have been systematically implementing much of the good advice and practice I’ve gleaned from reading Views from the Choir Loft and endlessly exploring the Watershed website. Formerly our parish had folk Masses, Breaking Bread Missals, a volunteer choir that didn’t formally practice, and cantors only at big events. Now we have mostly organ-led Masses every weekend and feast, a more traditional Missal and Hymnal—allowing us to implement the communion antiphon—a regularly meeting and practicing choir, and (last year) we regularly sang in 2-part harmonies!

This past spring, you re-posted the Polyphonic rehearsal videos on Facebook and I knew I had to take advantage of that golden resource. Our county’s deanery planned a Fatima pilgrimage: a celebration the 13th of the month for six straight months at a different parish around the county. I knew when I saw those rehearsal videos that we had to utilize them for our turn (which was tonight).

I have an all-female choir of about 8 dedicated women who sing every Sunday. During Christmas and Easter I convene a “festival choir” and get a few more volunteers to make our bigger Masses more special. So, I recruited another 15 men and women to join us for tonight’s Mass, using music almost entirely from your page:

—Guerrero’s Missa Iste Sanctus

—Hymn to Mary

—Hail, Holy Queen

—A communion antiphon for the Marian Mass we chose that Richard Rice whipped up for me when I cried for help on the CMAA page a few days ago!

—Filled out the time with a few well known Marian and Eucharistic hymns.
We had about 250-300 in attendance (full for our little parish). It was a huge success! My pastor was blown away at the beauty of the Mass setting by Guerrero. The people in attendance were just floored by how the 4-part choir enhanced the Mass. To quote our priest and echoed by others, they felt “like we were in heaven.” One older gentleman and his wife approached me after Mass and thanked me for the pleasant surprise. He said “I already knew I was going to witness the miracle of the Blessed Sacrament tonight, but never did I think I’d open a program and see the MISSA ISTE SANCTUS.”

I just cannot thank you enough for how much your ministry has helped me grow and helped me introduce my parish to the incredible sounds that the human voice is capable of. I hope you’ll share some of my story on your blog and social media to encourage others to get out of their comfort zone and try beautiful things in their liturgies! My only regret is that with the stress of the night, I didn’t get any video or audio to send to Jeff Ostrowski so he could he could hear how all his soprano singing was worth it—to see little old ladies and scared young tenors singing sacred polyphony for the first time in their lives!

For whatever reason, these last two weeks have been full of heavy crosses.

A letter like this was so gratifying to receive!